Technorati Tags: Culture
In this century, your brand culture, corporate culture and the culture of people using your products are becoming one. The distinction is diminishing. How do you make your produts work in these complex markets, driven by dynamic and fluctuating consumer behavior? Listening to people and delving into their culture will help you to create a better brand.
When I started blogging, back in 2001, blogs were unknown to the majority of people. Some of the blogs I read back then were authored by people who didn’t call them blogs. People like Jeffrey Zeldman or Stowe Boyd. They were just using what they had to express themselves, probably not aware that they were the first messengers of a cultural change. We were ahead of our time.
I started out with GreyMatter, switched to Movable Type and now I have two other blogs running, one on Wordpress. I am also considering ExpressionEngine as a third option. But it was never about technology.
Even back in 2001, we started to realize it was all about content. Mind you, it was the era before Facebook and YouTube.
After blogging came micro blogging, with Tumblr, later Soup.io and now Posterous. While Six Apart drifted away with their now defunct VOX, I focussed more and more on status messages, on the Twitter phenomenon and I used every channel I could find to experiment with publishing. It was no longer only about content, at least not long articles. It was about the spark, the immediate thought.
I began to see the relations between all these things, how they function and what makes people use them, without ever thinking how they work. And I realized that success for these tools is strongly dependent on certain patterns.
Publishing is now completely independent of power, money, influence as starting points. Anyone can publish anything. What makes some publishers more successful, what gains them more popularity, are a number of factors.
I might have forgotten something. If that is the case, feel free to comment.
If I had followed these rules, I would have been a much more successful author. I focussed on other things, to make a living, because I couldn’t afford to just exist by writing. I would, if that would be an option.
However, I don’t intend to be defeated. I believe in the relevant thought, ideas and learnings that will bring us forward, that will change things. Change has always been my friend. I saw it coming and going, and I always benefitted from it in terms of learning and realization of the psychology behind it. So I will keep going and pick up my blog where I abandoned it a couple of months ago. It doesn’t matter if this disconnection happens again. If I have to repeat the process, I will.
I am just like my fellow bloggers. We are very human. We strive for success, for improvements, for recognition and for love. That can only be achieved with change and expression of ourselves.
I am personally most driven by the exciting feeling of “getting something”. Be it behavior patterns, social intelligence, networking theory, the rules of publishing… It all comes down to communication, the major change in our evolution. This is where I am coming from and where I will always be heading for.
So the talk has been up again, coming back like a boomerang: Apple is expected to release a Mac Tablet-PC. Of course, a few fans hoping for this to happen and Apple-focussed magazines dreaming about it, doesn’t make it any more real.
Michael Scalisi from PCWorld believes, the hype about the much rumored Apple Tablet is simply ridiculous and based on unfounded speculation. He calls it a train wreck. John Gruber responded aptly. And I think they’re both partially right.
I won’t quote Apple’s views on the computer tablet market, but in reference to Netbooks, according to The New York Times Bits Blog, Steve Jobs said in October 2008: “We don’t know how to build a sub-$500 computer that is not a piece of junk.”. For people not so familiar with Apple’s history, the translation of this could be read as “We know there’s a market of low-cost crappy computers, but we won’t join it.”.
If you look closer, that doesn’t really mean they will not come up with something awesome, which doesn’t join the low-cost crappy computer market, but will be superior to all existing products in hardware and software quality.
In short, if Apple is going to release something in this market, it will most definitely fulfill the following criteria:
There is no doubt that Apple actually knows very well now how to make a low-cost computer that is not a piece of crap. However, low cost, to Apple, will mean an entry price range between $500 and $800. So it will rival products like the Sony Vaio P series.
However, the question remains: Why would Apple want to enter this market? Isn’t it better off with focussing on the existing (and prosperous) markets of iPhone, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air?
By upgrading the product name from its MacBook range to the Pro line, Apple left the white MacBook line more or less untouched, but it seems clear that this product family is going to see some change in the near future. Either the MacBook Air is going to get siblings, or the white MacBook range is going to be merged into the MacBook Pro line with 15” screens.
So a Mac Tablet wouldn’t really alter the existing MacBook product line. But it could fill the gap between the iPhone 3GS, iPods and the MacBook Air. Being even thinner and lighter than the Air, it could be something like an Apple MacBook Helium. Still a MacBook, but without a physical keyboard. Instead it would introduce the world’s first notebook with haptic touch-screen technology. (You can feel the keys on a virtual keyboard.)
It’d be perfect for students, journalists and anyone who needs to carry around a really lightweight Tablet-style computer, that does just a few things, but it does it extremely well. It’d be that kind of lightweight computer Mr. Jobs would love to carry around to meetings. Now, that would certainly be something Apple could be interested in.
Recent history taught us, if something is simple, makes sense and it is easy to use, it will most likely become a standard. Nowhere else has this more proven to be true than on the Web.
Through the increasing expansion of Twitter, the at-sign (@) has become a standard reference for a sender’s name. It is the first time online, that the @-sign finds public usage outside of email addresses, where the @-sign is used after a name and before a domain name. Never the less, for everything that is posted online, this is going to become the new standard.
At my job we use Yammer. People at my office recently started to use the @-sign as a reference for people, as if it had never been any different. Chances are, this standard will become status quo in a couple of months from now, and other services will seamlessly adapt to the new pattern. I even predict that any online service who doesn’t use it, will be forced to use it, by the people participating in the service. This is one of the memes that is simple enough to actually break through on the lines of mass adoption.
Another change (introduced 2007) was the usage of hashtags (#). This change feels so obvious, it makes me scratch my head why no one had thought about it earlier. Hashtags are the natural semantic reference for tags, another emerging standard on the Web and other online media. Again, I expect more services to adapt to the situation and seamlessly integrate hashtags in their reference-system. And again, if they won’t do it, people will start doing it anyway.
So we have @ for people, # for tags. Is that all we need? Maybe it is. But from my perspective there is one thing missing, and that is the source. But the source has always been the URL, the actual link, you may say. This is true from a technical perspective, and of course, on the Web, hyperlinks are seen as the standard reference to a source. But semantically, they link to something but they don’t automatically refer to it as a source.
Isn’t anyone posting something, the sender (@name), automatically the source of information? True in many cases. Of course if I make a personal statement online, I become the source of that particular bit of information. However, in many other cases I quote someone (often using quotation marks), or I refer to a source, where I found that particular part of information. When I quote Wikipedia in a paper, I put a footnote at the bottom of the page, along with an asterisk sign.
There you have it, the natural usage of asterisks for reference sources. It didn’t start today, it started long time before the Web was born, and long before # stood for hashtags and @ stood for user names.
Traditionally, the asterisk has always been a sign for birth. Look at old public birth-notices, and their counterpart, the public death-notice. The *-sign stands for birth, the †-sign stands for death.
The asterisk as a reference to a source has always been used in books, articles, papers and blog posts. An adaption on Twitter and other Web services would only be a natural continuation of this usage.
To help distinguish the source of information from a person, I propose we start using the following pattern:
Here is a usage example:
I’m interested to hear your opinions. Please leave your comments and start spreading the itiative to broaden the discussion.
A friend of mine once said he believes that we geeks live in a bubble of our own. We always know the world news before everybody else, we are always up to date with the latest gadgets, we claim we have invented the trends we are following. And of course we constantly cite famous people’s books we are reading right now.
Truth to be told, we are humans like everyone else, but we suffer from a narcissistic ego trip.
Which is the very reason why we are successful at what we’re doing, and—believe it or not—it actually helps the world tackling some of its current problems. Celebrity geeks are not only entertaining, they actually change things. In order to become a celebrity geek though, they must become a person-brand and make use of every channel they get their hands on.
Which leads to the common misconception that “spreading the word” across all channels is the proven new marketing strategy, and all you have to do is sign up for Twitter and you’ll have the masses listening to you.
If this was true, Robert Scoble wouldn’t have 69,631 followers and Barack Obama wouldn’t be President by now.
People often ask me what Twitter is. The common answer you may hear is, it’s a micro-blogging channel for people to share their thoughts with the world, using only 140 letters. But that only tells you about how it works, it doesn’t tell you what it is.
Twitter is your teacher. It’s a confession booth. It’s your announcement board. It can be entertaining, boring or overwhelming. It is a source of inspiration as much as a source of distraction. Twitter can make your day, or it can ruin it. It is a great way to meet great minds. It is a way to figure out great minds think alike.
In short, Twitter adds something to your life that wasn’t there before. It connects you with people like in a direct conversation, which is much more alive than any thread of blog comments or email exchange.
But is this useful for you? And how do you make Twitter work for you?
You have a Twitter account. Sitting there and waiting doesn’t do anything. You need to add a couple of friends and say something. Don’t be shy, your first post doesn’t have to be brilliant. This isn’t blogging and it isn’t literature. But beware; this isn’t text messaging either. It is something in between of it all. The point is, and this may be the most crucial thing to understand how to make Twitter work for you: say something. Anything, just say it, dammit!
Once you got used to contribute to the crowd of sparrows, and once you added a few of your real life-friends who are already on Twitter, you may notice that they too have something to say. Don’t act surprised. Yes, you will actually have to work for being noticed, and starting to listen to people is not such a bad idea. Your friends, celebrities, even startups and brands may have to say something interesting. Behind great products are often great minds, after all. Not every celebrity or great thinker is automatically a great conversationalist, but many of them share what comes across their lives. And this is where Twitter actually starts making sense for you.
Listening to tweets (the unofficial term for Twitter-posts) of Al Gore, Barack Obama, Stephen Fry, Om Malik, Michael Arrington, Tim O’Reilly, Kevin Rose, Jason Kottke, John Gruber, Jeffrey Zeldman, Merlin Mann, Emily Chang, danah boyd or Julia Roy is probably more important than telling us what you had for lunch today. Think of any celebrity name that comes to your mind. Book authors, geeks, actors, musicians, politicians (but forget Paris Hilton and sorry, Seth Godin doesn’t use Twitter). If they published anything at all, chances are they are on Twitter. Like I said, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but if you want to learn something about life and succeeding with it, it is not a bad idea to follow brilliant minds on Twitter.
You don’t need to copy-cat those bright minds you are following. You may have noticed that they sometimes sound pretty human, in fact to an extent, they might be humans after all. They too make typos, forget manners, say something just for the sake of having said something and they sometimes inform you that they’re sick, tired or hungry. They are as human as you are, and what distinguishes them from you is the only fact that more people are listening to them than to you. Why is that? Simply because they are more interesting. These people know what to say and how to say it. They have proven it by writing books, in interviews, blogs and Twitter posts. So when you say something, try avoiding to report on your cat’s increasing loss of hair. If you think something interesting, say it, but make sure you don’t look dull.
Which brings me to the next point. Don’t attempt to post formulas for propulsion-engine physics on Twitter. Don’t try acting smart. You are allowed to be mundane sometimes. What makes you interesting is your personality, your way of observing and sharing things. Your wit, your insights, your experiences. One bad Twitter message cannot ruin your life, but it can make you look pretty stupid.
The problem with “stupid” is, that every person you ask defines it differently. But we all seem to have a common belief that our personal idea of “stupid” is an accurate representation of what stupid actually is.
Stupidity online isn’t about being less brilliant or spreading dull messages. It’s about the opposite of what makes you interesting; it means taking money out of the account of your person-brand. Once you start spreading nonsense on Twitter, people will start blocking you. It’s almost impossible to get out of the blocking-pit.
I’ve used the expression “crucial” one too many times already in this post. If it was just ok to use “crucial” previously, the next rule is really crucial if you want to get the most out of Twitter: Timing. A lot of people think “timing” means to say something at the right time. That is not all there is to it. You need to say the right thing at the right time.
Think about this for a second. “The right thing” doesn’t mean it is the best thing or the necessary thing to say right now. It means it is the thing of interest, the topic of discussion, the one thing people are thinking about right now. Of course this is not singular: a lot of things are momentarily hot topics, and in many of those cases it’s debatable whether these things are actually important or not. But timing for your statements means you listen to the world, and when there’s something you have a valuable insight to add, just follow rule number one.
If you are a blogger, a journalist or a book author, you may be following many of these rules already. However, for media like blogs, books, newspapers or magazines, it makes a lot of sense to be thoughtful about what you are saying to the world. You are writing it down, you revise it and you think about it. In many cases you sleep a night over it before you actually reveal your words to the world.
I won’t go as far saying this isn’t true for Twitter. (See the rules of being stupid or interesting.) But there’s another element of timing, and that goes with the rule of being on top of the topics the world finds interesting: You need to be quick. I don’t mean the Western-style pull-or-be-dead kind of quick. But if you are thinking about something interesting, there is no point in holding it back. Make it a concise, simple line that fits in 140 signs and post it. You can show up late to the party and no one will bash you for it—just don’t wait for the right moment for too long.
It may not be obvious, but this is a little different than “Be interesting!” or “Don’t be stupid!”. Twitter is not text messaging and it isn’t a giant chat room. Remember, whatever you have to say on Twitter, the world is listening. If you respond to someone, try making sense. Think for your audience, don’t make them wonder what the hell you are talking about.
Making sense excludes tweets like “Hell, yeah!” or “What was that?”. It isn’t enough to add the names of the people you are responding to (which is done by adding an @-sign to a Twitter name). You can’t expect people to respond to your tweet out of context, let alone make them listen to you. On the long run, if you keep doing this, you may annoy a couple of people and they will end up thinking you are a douche bag.
Ever since Twitter started out, marketers in- and outside the blogosphere have been glancing at it with skeptical eyes. While many self-proclaimed experts engaged in long debates over the usefulness of Twitter, concluding in mutual agreement that Twitter wouldn’t survive the next year. Several years later, Twitter climbs the charts of Web 2.0 applications and by now it is often mentioned in one sentence with Facebook and the President of the United States.
Talking to people and have them listen to you is a powerful thing. It can change your life and make you rich, if you play your cards right. If you have a product like your music, your t-shirts or a dying brand, you might be intrigued by the idea of an audience of six million potential followers. To the outside world, Twitter looks like a giant mailbox system where you just have to open an account, post a message every thirty seconds, and people will just love it. They will cheer and celebrate your joining of Twitter, and boom, your brand or product will gain more market share.
I know it sounds tempting. But wake up. It won’t happen.
I admit this is a somewhat simplifying explanation, but never the less it is true to its core. Skittles recently tasted this medicine, when the brand tried to make its Twitter account its brand-homepage. Two days later they made the Wikipedia explanation of Skittles their home.
The truth is, most brands don’t know how to make Twitter useful for their marketing, so they are just blindly stumbling around in social applications, putting themselves in the middle of the party and hoping someone wants to dance with them. Most corporate heads simply don’t get it, but those who do get it actually do benefit from social media. They learn a great deal about their customers and they get the chance to improve their product-value based on this information.
The thing about rock stars is, they actually rock. (Which you may apply as a general rule -of-thumb next time you attempt calling Madonna a rock star). Rock stars don’t need a stage or a guitar to rock, they usually rock all the time. It’s their life. A rock star can say anything and girls will start shrieking and jumping on their heels. Rock stars often suffer from their fame, but they usually got there because they were following the drug of fame like mosquitos being drawn towards street lights.
Becoming a rock star doesn’t happen over night; it is rock-hard work. You need to be up for this. You need to become numb for the question whether you really want to do this and lose your privacy or even your dignity over it. But all that aside, you can try as hard as you want and you’ll never be a rock star, unless you actually rock.
A lot of people try being rock stars, but they fail. Some of them make it to the charts, others actually manage to move the masses when they are on stage. They may call themselves rock stars, the media may call them rock stars, but in fact they are just people who figured out what people want. They don’t rock. They may even have talent, but the more they try being a rock star, the more pretentious they actually are.
And this is where this rule applies. Don’t try being a rock star. Just be yourself, be upfront, don’t hold back with the truth, say what’s on your mind, be helpful, insightful, interesting and naturally funny. Use all your talents but don’t think about them. If you hear someone saying “you rock!”, try to not let it go to your head.
By now you may have figured out what this post is all about. It is not only useful for Twitter nerds. Think about it: Apply the rules above to any situation in life, and you are actually better off with everything. Because the rules of life are not so much different than the rules for Twitter, or any other tool of communication. Your reality, your life consists of people surrounding you and interacting with you. Friends, family, co-workers, students, teachers, acquaintances and cashiers at the grocery store.
Be direct and upfront, honest but polite, interesting but not at any price. Talk to them about topics they are interested in and they will start paying attention. Who knows, they might even start following you.
The only festival of its kind in German-speaking Switzerland, Tweakfest is a Zurich based geek event, a successful institution combining aspects of various media in one show. Traditionally, Tweakfest merges the ideas of game developers, Web designers, data analysis specialists and caters to basicaly everyone interested in the Internet.
While 2005 year’s Tweakfest conference was about “visions of digital lifestyle”, this year’s event takes a look at interfaces (with which they refer to computer interfaces), the interaction point between man and machine.
In a funny tidbit of its press release, Tweakfest quotes “cyberspace” as if it was a common term to describe what is going on with the Internet these days. I always thought that “cyberspace” was this 80’s version of the Net, a Johnny Mnemonic kind of virtual reality, where nothing is real and everything has a vector-look. I feel so 1999.
Someone who writes PR with such incompetent references should really not write about the Internet at all. Even to non-geeks it should be obvious by now, that the Internet is not a cyber-reality but part of real life. It’s about people connecting with each other, exchanging things, ideas and real life experiences. Second Life and alike are still around, and it may be true these things will get better interfaces. But what does that have to do with our daily lives, our interaction with people, utilizing the Internet? Taking a look at interfaces seems a bit far off from the actual topics moving the Internet scene right now.
I was recently asked to write a summary of all trends involving the Internet at this time. It included interest based offers and portals, user empowerment, contact based applications, integration of sharing and social bookmarking, user feedback platforms, location aware services, life streams, mood and status messages, crowd sourcing and open source—but cyberspace was nowhere to be seen.
I must say I am a bit disappointed about Tweakfest this year. I was looking forward to attend at this year’s conference in April, but I will probably pass. It seems Tweakfest has indeed lost touch with the reality of what the Internet is all about these days.
As an alternative conference with much more impact on the scene, I would recommend Lift in Geneva. It’s taking place from February 25 until February 27, 2009. I won’t be able to make it, as I am in Florida during that time, but I would recommend it to anyone interested in the interaction between humans and the Internet.
In late 2001, early 2002, I was looking at MovableType for the first time. Published in October 2001 by a Californian couple, husband and wife, the MovableType framework looked like a promising alternative for blogging, compared to what I had been using until then, a CGI script suite called Greymatter. Textpattern, Wordpress, not to mention Blogger, LiveJournal, were not heard of around this time.
MovableType had all the modern features you wanted from a blogging software in these days: It could upload and insert pictures, and you could modify the layout and styles for your blog, so you wouldn’t be stuck with the presentation the developer had in mind for you. To be fair, Greymatter would let you modify the looks too, but it didn’t seem to be as elegant as MovableType.
I wanted to switch, but I had no clue about coding. I could barely code HTML, let alone deal with CSS styles. For all I knew, CSS was this new thing that would enable designers to style their fonts on websites. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to not only realize the full potential of CSS, but also understand its underlying principle, which would change the Web and the way we thought about design entirely.
For some of you, even the title of this post may sound old. Vivid discussions about life streams, life feeds and the like, and their comparison with micro blogging or blogging in general have been all over the blogosphere. Saying life streams are the new blog seems as obvious as saying digital photography has won over traditional film and paper.
All geekery set aside, while you may well be into blogging, you may dig Twitter and you posted to your first tumble log, when some people, who are coding websites today, were just entering college—to the majority of people using the Web today, micro blogging and life streams are complete strangers.
It has not become mainstream yet, and truth to be told, it probably never will be. Whereas blogging was a relatively simple revolution – a comprehensible change in media behavior, even TV networks would get it after a while – micro blogging and life streams are just two entirely new animals. Many among you will ask: “What’s the difference? I post a long story, which is a blog post, or a short story, which is micro blogging”. That’s as far people will take it, if you are lucky. We are talking about the common crowd here, people who are looking at websites as just another media channel to have fun with.
Why do I believe it will never become mainstream? Because it caters to a special kind of crowd, with a special kind of audience, who is constantly expanding its horizon, restless on its search for cool pictures and personal tidbits.
I may be wrong, but I believe micro blogging is more something you just do, and you don’t have to get what’s the difference to do it right. By the choice of your tool to publish to the world, without remodeling the framework, most people use Tumblr and Twitter just like everybody else. Those services are flexible enough to adjust to your needs, just like blogging, but they are more rigid in their focus on “tell the world what you feel like or what you found”.
It is also the nature of this kind of change that doesn”t screem “change”. It is a follow-up, not a turnaround. Even blogs were not a major turnaround. They were a consequence of the general course the Web had taken around the time of 2000, 2001. Some programmers got tired of manually adding HTML code to their static pages, so they used the tools they had at hand, mainly CGI and later PHP, to automate that process in a structured, automated way, so they could focus on writing and less on making it look pretty.
Micro blogging brings another level to blogging. While blogging was about bringing out the journalist in all of us, it quickly emerged as the number one source of information flow, of provocative thought causing reaction, comments and ratings, threads leaving the forums and bulliten boards, finally elevating blogs to new magazines, centers revolving around commonly shared interests, such as electronics or technology. Blogs grew even beyond that, filling the void for all those channels who had been big in offline publishing, but who had been on a desperate search for an adequate channel on the Web. Suddenly, publishing on the Web became simple, quick, accessible and manageable.
The layer micro blogging adds to this is twofolded.
For one, it has this disciplinarian character, this ethical code, that everything needs to be short and concise. it is an unwritten law mostly, more clearly defined in some cases. But by definition, micro blogging is what it is because it is even quicker and more to the point than regular blogging.
Second, micro blogging is about finding and posting without second thought. it is a lot like a moleskine notebook with a scrap book-like functionality extension. A micro blog is like a drop-box for your random quotes, thoughts, ideas, worries, moments of brilliance and mundanity.
On that level it is the perfectly shaped tool for people like Stephen Fry. You can tell, the guy dearly loves his Twitter. Micro blogging occupies the blurry area between blogging and text messaging on mobile phones. it is a lot more like a mixture of a treasure box and a direct conversation than a blog, which is related to a journal, or a captain’s logbook.
You can just get blogging software and declare it your tumble log. But of all the free services that are dedicated to simplified tumble logging, Tumblr is likely the most established one.
By default, Tumblr doesn’t give you as many options like MovableType or Wordpress. Tumblr provides you with a brilliantly designed canvas, enabling you with the quickest and most accessible publishing tools available today. it is as powerful as any other blog software, but it also restricts you in certain ways you may be used from regular blogging tools. In Tumblr, it is not all about managing media (like in Wordpress) or about adding community features (like in MovableType). it is all about “find, log and forget about it”.
Tumblr’s archive is a simple list of links to previous posts. There are no search by category or tags; there’s no rating and, last but not least – probably the most significant difference – no commenting.
Historically, threads of comments have been the backbone of blogging. If it weren’t for comments, Google wouldn’t have been able to extend it is capability to track contents by rate of interest and interaction. Blogging may be about writing and publishing, but it is commenting that elevates it to a conversation. Comments also make all the difference for authors of blogs, because they remind you someone is actually reading what you are sharing with the world.
One way or the other, the benefits of micro blogging will influence blogging as we know it. If I take a look at current movements, I suspect it has done that already. People will always have a hard time seeing the difference compared to regular blogging, but that’s not the reason why it won’t replace it. It simply serves a different need we all have, because everyone who discovers things in life and on the web loves a simple way to say “look what I found!”, or “hey, I agree to what this guy is saying!”.
I had a tumble log for some years, but after Tumblr made it is API public and opened the gates to imported RSS feeds, I didn’t use it for much more than a life stream. It simply became the streaming-live drop-box of my life. My posts on Twitter, Flickr and Delicious were flowing through the veines of my Tumblr site. And that was all there was to it. I rarely posted something exclusively on Tumblr.
This is about to change, because some time last weekend I decided to introduce changes to my blogging behavior. As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted a new blog entry in some time. And most of the recent entries were about why i didn’t write so much anymore.
Probably like everyone else who is doing similar things I am doing, my life is in constant change. And those changes require an adaption of behavior. I know myself well enough to realize, I won’t write long stories like this one anymore. My wish to maintain a certain degree of quality for my posts on Core Theory kept me from posting random thoughts and findings. For that, I’ll use Tumblr from now on. it is extremely practical, perfectly suited for my current way of life.
I’m not the only one taking this path. A colleague of mine contributed to my decision when he explained to me he simply didn’t have the time to maintain a website and a blog of his own. I keep hearing the same story from everywhere these days.
Don’t worry, I’ll still write on this blog every now and then, but the pressure has been taken out of the need to post great stories every day.
If Tumblr isn’t quite your thing, take a look at Soup, Streem and, even if it has a different philosophy, check out FriendFeed too. And then there are a ton of different ways to post on Twitter and the like.
If you just want to write and forget about the pictures, quotes and quick ideas you encounter on a daily basis, you still have all the blogging power at your fingertips: MovableType (Barack Obama used MovableType for his campaign), Wordpress, Textpattern all provide solid software. Most of it is available for free, if it is for personal use, and provided you are willing to get your hands dirty with code. Wordpress comes in a completely free, ready to go flavor, and MovableType has a commercial turnkey-solution called TypePad.
By the way, I did add comments functionality to my Tumblr site. I love Tumblr’s simplicity, but I also love a great conversation.
It looks like Craigslist has severe server issues. The site has been down partially for most of the day. It’s possible to call up http://newyork.craigslist.org/, but it is impossible to post an ad or call up the original website, http://craigslist.org, hosted in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I’m surprised a site of this size and relevance is running into server scalability problems.
Update:It looks like they are aware of the problem and working out maintenance issues. You can now access some sites of Craigslist, but not post an ad.
It’s got one of those hard-to-get domain names. No, not hard to get what they mean, hard to find one that isn’t taken, because they sound and look so fashionably Web 2.0.
Poolga is a site with a simple mission: to populate your iPhones with better wallpapers. It’s perfect for those of us who say they’ve got better taste than what many fanboys have posted on Flickr. Poolga has become my first source for changing boredom on my brand new iPhone.
Today is Blog Action Day. For 24 hours, 19,974 blogs write about one topic: the environment.
It seems that everyone agrees: the environment is one of the most important issues. Again. That’s right, there was a similar movement going on in the eighties, and it subsided in Green parties, Greenpeace and a few laws about whale hunting, which have been undermined and loopholed by Japan ever since.
I remember anti-nuclear energy stickers on school bags next to ACDC stickers, local WWF collections to save Pandas and schools here in Europe were spreading the belief that earth’s supplies of fossile energy would not suffice beyond the year 2007. In 1985, that seemed a long time away in the future.
Having lived in San Francisco off and on, from about 2003 until spring 2005, I learned that having anti-SUV bumper stickers on your car is fashion of the same chic like wearing an old army jacket with a pink ribbon, while you’re walking down Upper Height, demonstratively presenting your solidarity with a widely overrated and romanticized group of college dropouts with rich parents in the sixties.
I can see the same patterns reappearing today. It’s all tres chic. Of course we are all for saving the environment. Who isn’t? Since we’re all one happy family of geeks, I feel it’s safe to say we all are on top of this topic, with our RSS feed readers with 41’365 messages waiting for us.
Together with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize, and while reading about his new book (which I honestly heard is good), we right-clickingly buy a symbolic bottle of water to support well drilling somewhere in Africa.
I am no better, I am no different. The question is, what could make a difference? Many say, turn off the lights. Turn off your computer. Do a walk in the park instead. While I agree that 20,000 life switches being turned off in the same moment sounds like such a pretty idea, I’m not sure if it’s really cutting it.
Let’s face it: the biggest source of trouble on earth are humans, and the biggest oil guzzling, energy demanding, pollution crating source among all humans are the United States of America. (I know China has more citizens, but guess what, they also use more bicycles.)
Among some of my friends, I am known to support quite unpopular ideas, such as removing all borders and getting rid of the concept of countries and nations. Yes, I know, it’s radically utopian and frankly sounds like a nut idea. But it wouldn’t be the first nut idea that carried further than the words proposing it.
Prepare for even more insane ideas: What if we wouldn’t have nations and borders? What if our value system was equalized and the same matter wouldn’t cost ten times the price of what it costs at another point on this planet? What if we had local governments ruling over small communities, connected in a network that is supported by global laws, not national ones? I am not thinking about the United Nations. I am talking about truly global laws to protect the environment.
Nature is a global thing, you know. It’s not a local issue or a national discussion topic. Nature has no borders and nations. That’s an invention of humans. Nature is evolution, and currently we are interrupting its natural development, disrupting it with massive shifts of elements. This is what pollution and oil consumption are all about, a shift of elements, caused by Western Civilization.
By now I might have lost a couple more readers than just the ones who were looking for gossip about Paris Hilton. But if you’re still here, do me a favor. Pardon me, it’s two favors. One, go read Al Gore’s new book. (It’s less about environmentalism and more about the troubles caused by the U.S.) Two, tell me your idea of changing the world in global context, not only as one, or a couple of nations. I’m really interested to hear your thoughts on new concepts of living together, ideas beyond our worn out models of nationalism, economic efficiency and our all too well established value-system of “you have it and we want it”.
Life on the fast lane, that’s how we used to describe people who lived a life of sex, drugs and rock’n roll. It had usually to do with social ignorance and there was always a certain amount of alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs involved. Life on the fast lane meant a candle that burns brighter and for less long, to pull a nice Bladerunner quote.
Today, life on the fast lane means something slightly different. At least for the geeky crowds I sometimes exchange myself with. Some live a life so fast, or on a lane so far out, I don’t even get any life sign from them in several weeks. Like last week, when I completed a demo for soil / seed / plant, a new project I had started to work on several weeks ago. It’s basically a concept to improve collaboration and help sorting our thought process out.
I sent it out to my closest friends and the brightest minds I personally know in the blogosphere. But until today, nobody has replied. I know I shouldn’t put that on the content of my email, or the ideas proposed in the demo. It’s just an idea after all. The reality is, most of the people I know and sometimes work with don’t have the time to look into everything they get. Talk about Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero.
Another project I’m working on is notepin. I can’t disclose too much about these two projects, but if they come along like I envisioned them, they will both bring something new to the Web 2.0 universe. So stay tuned for my life on the fast lane, and if you do, I promise I will be a good boy with updating you with what’s going on.
Google’s Ride Finder is the kind of application that will become handy when you have an iPhone. A Google Map shows updated real-life data of cabs in U.S. cities, tracked by location. I zoomed into San Francisco and clicked “update location” a few times. It really shows how the cabs are moving. Say you are stuck in the city and need a ride. You simply walk to the next cluster of cabs and get a ride home.
Expect a lot more of these applications to emerge with devices like the iPhone. A year from now, competing phone manufacturers will have updated their browsing experience to catch up with the iPhone. On the users side of the experience, the Web is now leaving the desktop or laptop and evolving towards a semantic web, where Web applications tie in with real life objects and situations.
On my way to the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, I read a short column in the International Herald Tribune. It was a small note on the upper right corner of a page dominated by a headline about Thailand blocking Youtube access.
The article, subtly titled “US hits high-tech visa limit”, dryly reports that the US immigration authorities have started to reject applications from skilled foreign workers seeking visas to work in America during the 2008 fiscal year.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Agency (USCIS, ruled by Homeland Security) said that the country had reached its limit for 2008 H-1B visa petitions in a single day and would not accept any more, to the dismay of technology companies that rely on the visas for hiring skilled foreign workers. The agency had begun accepting applications on Monday 9th of April 2007 for the fiscal year starting October 1 and said that it had received about 150,000 applicatioons by midafternoon. Only about 65,000 visas are granted.
The agency said it would use computers to randomly pick visa recipients from the applications received Monday and Tuesday. it will reject the remaining applications and return the filing fees. In 2004, the time window to apply for an H-1B visa was open for several months until the cap had been reached.
At Microsoft, about a third of its 46,000 U.S. based employees have work visas or are legal permanent residents with green cards, said Ginn Terzano, a spokeswoman for the company.
A quote from Robert Hoffman, an Oracle vice president and co-chairman of Compete America, a coalition that includes Microsoft, Intel, Oracle and others: “Our broken visa policies for highly educated foreign professionals are not only counterproductive, they are anti-competitive and detrimental to America’s long-term economic competitiveness.”
Technorati Tags: Culture
It is quite early in the morning and I had only one cup of coffee. I have less than 20 minutes to go and yet I dared to start another blog post.
The trick is not to think of those 20 minutes. I think of it as a sprint, not a marathon, which my articles usually are. While this will be a quick and dirty post, I hope you will find it contains some useful information that will help you through your day.
A big mouth full? Maybe, but now I got your attention.
It usually takes several hours at night to complete an article and post it here. I do this to maintain a certain persistence in quality and clearness. Because I tend to write a lot, I often end up bloating up a topic that was originally merely three lines in my Moleskin notebook.
The secret of writing a post or article that makes sense, and doing it in less time than it usually takes, is this: Choose one single line in your head, one idea, and stick to it. It’s working better if this idea isn’t a key to a million other questions, and you will have a less hard time staying focussed if it is a practical idea, like “How to do your dishes without getting bored by it”. (The answer to that would be to disconnect your hands from your brain and let your mind wander off; but this topic is exactly the kind of distraction I am trying to avoid here).
Never the less, the approach of simply doing it is the same. You may have forgotten it, but “just do it” was there before Nike claimed it as their territory in the late nineties.
Few people I know like rules. Everybody I know likes the idea of breaking with the rules better than following rules. Still, we all live by rules and we all like doing so. We depend on them actually, and most of them have sneaked in our lives without us realizing. You accept a rule when it works for you, and that happens independently of whether you like the rule, its principle or the reason why you have to follow it.
I started a new rule, and it rarely happens I exclaim something like that publicly. But the rule is so simple and has some real value, I don’t want to hide it from you.
It is called “one hour”.
I will take one hour of each day and dedicate it to write for my blog. Sounds simple. Where is the news? The new thing is, this is a mandatory rule, that it must happen within the time frame of one hour. I certainly haven’t invented the effect of the rule. Writers like Jack London or Thomas Mann were both known for their tightly scheduled hours of writing. But they took eight hours a day in which they locked themselves up in an office and you were not allowed to disturb them.
I have to leave for work in less than five minutes and I am still writing my one hour post. But that is the magic to it. I will be done before I have to go to meet my client. And it will still be one of the better posts I’ve written on this blog.
How do you do it? Make your mind run, not walk. It is a lot of fun to let it walk and pick up every little string of associated thoughts and ideas you come across along the way. But look at the goal for your one hour-post. What you want to convey is a dense but useful bit of text.
Don’t look back, don’t correct. Don’t change, add or tweak. Let it stand. Train your mind to become better at being direct and concise. (And yes, you may break with this rule occasionally. Trying to stick with it is what improves your skills though.)
The one hour rule fits better for a writer of today. It doesn’t apply to everything I write, but it works for this post and others to follow. It is actually a lot of fun, and you should try it too.
Now I am a little late for my meeting, but I feel so much better now.
There is something about unconferences I find extremely attractive. I have been to uncounted meetings, workshops, conferences and events. Most of them are presentations of slideshows, filled with programs, shows and the firm idea of someone trying to sell you something.
A BarCamp sells ideas, and more than you can handle. It does this without trying. That is its secret; it doesn’t sell products, it provides humus.
From the moment I heard about BarCamps and its underlying unconference format, of which I read just prior to my first encounter of them, I was intrigued. It fits so well with with my nature, or let’s say my view of nature. Put a random number of people in a room, let them reflect their experiences, let them ask interesting questions, let them be skeptical, suspicious, curious and, most of it all, eager to learn. What you will get is what makes a BarCamp work.
I should be clearer about this: You don’t preselect, choose or guide it in any way. In fact, you don’t have any influence on what will happen. You provide structure, space and resources, but you let go of the power to organizing content. Its general topic will attract the right people. Those who can, will speak up. If you only let it happen, a great amount of creativity and inspiration may emerge. It may not always work smoothly, but give it some space let the smart minds wander, and the flaws will be minor in relation to what you gain.
You have the power to fill it with what you care about. The passion, thoughts, ideas and reflections you carried up on that hill to ETH Zurich. I wouldn’t be overly enthusiastic about this BlogCamp, but take a look around on the Web in Switzerland. These are real people, Switzerland on the move, our minds crossing borders. How could this not be a good thing? In the end it doesn’t matter what you call it, if you only make it happen.
All sessions I attended were held in English. With most people I met we spoke English. Stephanie Booth declared at some point, this was a Swiss-German blogger meeting, but coming from the German language side, I didn’t experience it quite as drastic. From Bruno Giussani I learned about Bondy Blog, a unique case of French young people, who started to move French politics, backed by Swiss journalists. Stephanie Booth’s session about language and bloggers being bridges made me think deeper about what borders we really have on the Internet today. Dannie Jost’s session connected straight with previous thoughts I had but couldn’t formulate properly. Gabor Cselle’s session opened up basic blogging questions I hadn’t thought about before.
Only when I returned home, a full day later, I grasped that BlogCamp Switzerland had effectively demonstrated what Dannie’s session was all about. Blogging is not about blogging, the Web is not about the Web, and we underestimate the Internet if we reduce it to what we see in it.
What makes the Internet really work is the people using it. People want to express themselves because it is in their very nature. It’s refreshing to experience that those borders we built over generations only last in the backpack of our education. Lose that backpack for a day, and you will feel how easy you can walk without it. You might even cross a bridge to a different culture and language.
All in all, the sessions themselves weren’t all equally resourceful. Some open ends remain, some things I’d like to explore more deeply and learn more about. No clear answers were provided. I think that is what makes this work so well.
Boy, did I want to write this post. For a long, long time. But I never got around to do it. If I wasn’t working, you guessed it, I was twittering.
Expect “twittering” to line up next to “googling” as a new word in the dictionary any time soon. It’s not just a new social Web app, it is a rocket booster of a pop phenomenon.
It is hard to tell when exactly that point emerges, when a product, person, brand or name reaches this point of critical mass. But it has typically reached that point when literally everybody is talking about it. It is that moment when you can read about it in mainstream media, and when your dad calls you and asks you if that is what you’re doing. That’s the moment when you know, something has been taking off really.
It was like that for terms like Web 2.0, Myspace, Google, Amazon and the iPod. And it’s undeniable now that all these names, companies, brands or things have settled deeply in the mindset of the average consumer. Ask anyone on the street, and they will know what Google is. They don’t need to own a computer to know it.
A number of smart people have already talked about Twitter, written articles and essays, and elaborated on what Twitter what Twitter is and how it works. Most conclude in unison that Twitter is easy to use and a lot of fun. But try explaining it until you really used it. You can try, but it will always be a blurry image of the actual experience. Twitter is a lot about the experience.
No one, not even Twitter’s founder, could possibly estimate or explain beforehand how Twitter would pull off, and why. My guess is, they just had a hunch about doing the right thing, and Twitter prove them right. If something is proven this way, by people using it around the clock, and numbers of users growing exponentially, what better way do you know to demonstrate this was a brilliant idea?
Twitter is not used by individuals only. You will find companies like Adaptive Path, Technorati and even the Bay Area’s BART have started twittering. Among its most famous adopters are Steve Jobs, Jeffrey Zeldman and iJustine.
Aside of all the hype, joy and simple fun people get out of Twitter, I made a couple of thoughts on my own. I too can enjoy Twitter without analyzing it too much. It simply works, and it works beautifully. But I wouldn’t be me if I wouldn’t want to know why it actually works. What makes this a brilliant idea?
In an interview at SXSW, Twitter’s founders made an emphasis about this point. Being open in all directions, creating connection points on multiple devices, is a crucial point to them. I think we will see a lot more happening in this direction soon, with websites leaving the Web, taking their capabilities beyond the browser and starting to get a foot in our daily lives. With Web 2.0, the Web has actually found back to its mission, its true meaning. It is all about connections. So the cell phone is just another interface, which doesn’t work the way it should now, but real Web apps haven’t really started yet to appear on cell phones. Leaders like Nokia and new kid on the block, Apple, are joining Google, Yahoo! and others to make your phone a more useful device. The key element here is to make the device work with your needs and habits, and not just focus on creating a better Web browsing experience.
I am also working on a concept that incorporates cell phones, which will take some of the functionality you know from websites and provide connection points in daily life, for real life situations.
You aren’t always sitting in front of your computer, but your cell phone is always in your pocket. It is about time cell phones run more than browsers and email, to do more than calling up movie times or train schedules. Cell phones are communication devices, and despite the fact they were bogging users down with superfluous features (like that useless Moto Midi sound mixer on my Motorola Razr), cell phones are now following the Web, entering a new age of change. One could well call it Cell 2.0. Do you think I should trademark that?
Technorati Tags: Culture
Next week on Saturday, I’m going to attend the Swiss BlogCamp. It’s taking place on 24th of March, at the campus of the University of Zurich.
I’m really excited about the opportunity to meet Swiss bloggers and generally people who are involved in current developments of Web culture. I heart communication and exchange. Envigorating conversations and discourses about the Web, brands, people’s behavior patterns, usability and design patterns are fuel for my mind.
If you haven’t checked it out yet, have a look at the official BarCamp website (which runs on a Wiki system by the way).
Today, as part of the opening of the MacWorld, Steve Jobs will hold his traditional keynote at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. And I’m finding myself posting the third article about Apple’s upcoming phone in a row. Why? Because I believe it’s going to be released today. Second, because it’s going to be big, very big.
It’s unconfirmed directly by Apple of course, but Think Secret gives the Apple phone release today a 90% chance of probability. This isn’t speculation anymore, as everybody from Stock Markets to technology leaders is watching Apple today.
But why now? Why do we all think Apple is ready? A phone from Apple has been on the wish list of many avid Mac users for years. And dreams about PDAs, game consoles and tablet PCs from Apple seem never to subside in the blogosphere. Apple is one of those brands that has replaced Santa Clause from our childhood. You really, really want to be a good kid to get what you’re wishing for. Apple’s brand is iconic in a true sense. People watch Apple’s activities because it is this one technology brand, that is able to change our lives. We’ve seen it happening before.
There are a number of factors, which I think are indicating that the time is right now, that not only Apple but also the world is ready for Apple entering the phone market.
iTunes made the introduction of the iPod a success. Similarly to iTunes, it might be possible Apple is again putting its money on a more seamless integration with computers, Windows and Mac alike, by providing better user experience overall. I really think ‘user experience’ is the key element here for Apple.
If you throw a stone into a pond of water, it will create symmetric ripples. If you throw multiple stones in the same point at the same time, those ripples will run into another and create just disturbed water. It is pretty much the same in markets, particularly in the consumers technology market, where new products are introduced by the minute. And each one wants to call for your attention.
Apple had to wait for the right timing. Until it was ready, with its experience, technological capabilities, production lines and a market that’s ripe and ready for a phone from Apple. I’m sure they know what they’re doing, and they haven’t been waiting for no reason. We will know more in a couple of hours.
I have to admit, when I started reading this blog entry of Leander Kahney and Pete Mortensen, I thought it was missing a point. But when I continued reading, I knew they’re right.
Aside of a few other factors of influence, like ease of use and being there in the right time, what made the iPod the market leader of mp3 players wasn’t the iPod. It was iTunes.
With the tech world watching Apple these days, everyone seems to know or have an advice what Apple is supposed to come up with. An “iPod to make phone calls with” seems to be the most commonly believed expectation, followed by a phone with “seamless iTunes integration”.
But I believe that is just the tip of the ice berg actually. If Apple will come out with a phone, its user interface will be so blazingly simple, and synchronizing features will just work, so everyone will be blown away. Facing the elegance and simplicity, we’ll be asking ourselves “why hasn’t anyone else come up with this?”.
Think of the introduction of quite complex applications such as iMovie and GarageBand. Even in their earliest release versions, these programs hit the nail right on the head, with regard to usability and working how consumers think.
Personally, I’m waiting for another phone introduction from Nokia, the N95, expected to hit European markets within the next couple of months. It’s got quad band, Wi-Fi support, bluetooth and all the bells and whistles you could expect from a smartphone these days. Its camera is 5 megapixels, which is a big leap compared to my current 1.3 MP of my Motorola RAZR (which admittedly uses outdated technology).
Aside of these stunning specs, the N95 won’t only play all sorts of media, record mpeg4 video and lets you connect to your TV to play videos and images back. It also features seamless Flickr integration (send pictures to Flickr right from your phone), as well as geotagging. Using GPS, the phone will “remember” where you took that picture, and it will be added as tags to your photo’s meta data when it’s uploaded to Flickr. Think about what this means if you have a Plazes account. Your map of your own discovered places will populate with hundreds of little buds.
If the wait for the Apple phone takes much longer, I’m inclined to give the N95 a try. Aside of a missing slide keyboard to write longer text messages, it features everything we’ve been promised from phone manufacturers for years. No wonder Nokia is calling it not a phone, but a “multimedia computer”. You may say it’s just another label, but it’s also a mouth full to call a phone that, so I’m curiously watching if they will deliver.
Technorati Tags: Culture
Ever since the release of the first Mac, Apple had this reputation of being the renegade in the industry. The way Apple did it, quickly became the standards-leading way for everyone else making computers, operating systems and programs. Every comfort you enjoy today, about the Internet, about computers and operating systems, has its roots at Apple. The company has had a catalyst effect for years, with industry-changing ideas.
For some period of time, shortly before Steve Jobs returned to the company, Apple had lost this power and its focus. They had become followers instead of leaders. In this hostile atmosphere of shareholders in doubt, users annoyed and the media bashing Apple, some industry leading celebrities demanded Apple should be sold to someone. They called it doomed.
In a surprising strike of destiny, everything came differently. Apple reinvented itself. With Jobs returning, a new advertising campaign demonstrated how Apple had found back to its roots. “Think different” wasn’t just a credo, or a reminder of the good old days at Apple. Thinking differently was what they actually did: First, the iMac came out, then the iPod, and the rest is history. We live in a different world today. Together with iTunes, the iPod didn’t only have an influence on our lifestyles, it also changed the entire media industry.
Apple is fully aware of what they have done. They know you can’t pull off tricks like that very often. But they also know they don’t want to stand still here. So what is the next big thing?
A lot of people have computers at home and carry laptops to work. On any car of a commuter train you will find two or more pairs of white headphones, signifying iPod users. But which device do you use on a daily basis, even more than your computer? It was just a matter of time, until Apple would have a look at cell phones.
Being Apple, the company knows what is on stake. Unlike the market of mp3 players in 2001, the cell phone markets world wide are well established, but extremely scattered. Consumers are increasingly confused and annoyed, by different carriers, different pricing plans and -concepts, limiting network standards, and atop of it all, every cell phone manufacturer tries to impose new features nobody really asked for. Worse, they make promises and don’t fulfill them, like real web-surfing, or email on the go. You find those features only in the more expensive smart phone-models, and even with these, the operating systems are hard to use and unreliable.
SMS text-messaging is almost as big as email in Europe, and if you take a look at Japan, people are making video calls like as if there had never been another way to call someone. It’s not only an established market scene, hard to oversee and grasp, it’s also fighted over as if there was no tomorrow. Entering this market means you have to be loaded with funds, some good plans, and carry a very decent product. You should be knowing what you’re doing.
Not enough, you’ll say. If you are Apple, you need to do more than just that. Your phone needs to be the best there is.
I believe this is the main reason why Apple has not released a phone, yet. They will though, and apparently this isn’t a rumor anymore. The iPhone seems to be real from what you read all over the web. The reasons why Apple didn’t come out earlier are clear to me. They don’t want to fail. They want to come out with a product that will blow everyone away. So they are preparing for what could be regarded as their one time shot, their biggest chance, ever since the introduction of the iPod.
If I was Steve Jobs, my feature list for the developers team of the new Apple phone would look a little bit like this:
I know this sounds like an awfully demanding list. But I’m Steve Jobs! You know how I am. I want things to be designed to work right!
Kidding aside, I think these specs are close to what might have been cycling among marketing- and developer teams at Apple. Not every point might have been addressed with this first release of the phone, but we’ll see what they made out of it. According to some news sources, it could be announced as early as January 2007.
Technorati Tags: Culture
Aside of all the things I didn’t like so much about advertising, one thing was a good learning. The creative department was called “creative” for a reason. People inside an ad agency were always referring to them as “the creative”. I always found there is nothing more rewarding than the feeling of being part of a group that is creative, that actually creates things.
The bad side of advertising is, 90% of what you create goes to the trash bin. And that’s not for early ideas only. It’s for everything, also the big campaigns you work out to the last detail. Depending on your agency style, you usually present one, perhaps two, up to five different ideas to the client. With five ideas, if you’re lucky, he will like one. If not, you’re going back and come back with another set. If you are not so lucky, he will give you a new brief with each turn.
But that’s one of the challenges advertising creatives are facing. They don’t talk much about it. They may say “too bad we didn’t get it”. But if the agency calls itself a creative agency, it will simply go back to work and come up with something else. Unless the client turns out to be stupid. Believe it or not, it has happened before that an advertising agency, desperate for new business, has turned down a client because they were acting randomly, costing more than they brought in. By the end of the day, also creative work is work measured by economic standards.
The reasons why a client chooses an advertising agency are various. For one, they need someone to take off this burden of creating something they wouldn’t come up with. Creativity is one aspect, but not all to it. They also need partners who think like them, who understand them and who will actually get what they want from them. They also need caring and guidance, that’s based on the experience of the agency.
Some clients pick their creative agencies for one of those reasons. In the least cases it’s only because of creativity. A lot of people think that creativity counts most, but that is not the case. Clients want to sell a product and hope for an idea that elevates this product to gain exposure to the public, to rise into the attention span of the audience. That is one aspect. But clients also want to look good with their bosses. Most big companies have defined yearly budgets for product groups. If you’re an advertising company for Coca-Cola, you don’t talk to the big bosses. You talk to the division chief of your state, for the product group of Sprite, for an example. And this product manager has a schedule of gaining output volume of his product, within a specific range. Not too much, not less.
This client behavior leads to certain politically moves that are designed to bring the most convenience to the product manager. He/she wants to look good in front of his/her bosses, but not outstanding. It is a balance thing, it is human and it is understandable.
For the ad agency though, for the creative team, this isn’t really fun. It means “they want an idea of us, but not one that works too well”. How distorted is that? But it’s true, I have experienced it over and over. Markets are in steady motion, but no one in the middle hierarchies of big corporations whants to be responsible for shifting the market too much in one direction. I know of one case with the company mentioned before, where a successful product launch was killed because the product was a little too successful, pulling off market share of another product within the same range, from the same brand. These things happen on a daily basis for creative agencies.
Still, being creative is rewarding. The simple fact you are put in charge to come up with something, to create something from scratch, find a solution to a difficult question, or surprise your audience with something fresh—all this is a tremendous reward for all the hours you waste for campaigns that never made it. By the end of the day, that pile of stuff that didn’t make it will be ten times as high as your pile of campaigns that were published. But that is a given part of the game.
A creative director is someone who gives ‘direction to creative’. A good creative director doesn’t ‘make’ people go in one direction, or forces them to use his own ideas. He is there to analyse ideas and help them being born. He has a certain amount of power within an agency structure, and if he is good at his job, it is power based on respect, for his ability to see the good.
Seeing the good is what it is all about when you are a creative director. It elevates you from the position of designer, art director, copy writer or strategist. Creative director brings the responsibility of hiring people, supporting them, guiding them, not being too intrusive with it all, and also of firing them, if they aren’t successful. It’s not a nice job, and you are not invited for beer after work because you do your job. But if you’re good at it, you are respected by the people who work with you because of your judging capabilities. If you’re not good at that, you will have a hard time having good ideas emerge and prosper out of teams.
If you, the web company, ever considers hiring a designer, you should take this in consideration. You will miss out on the experience of a creative director. Do you really just need a designer, or do you need someone who is capable to carry responsibility? Designer is an extremely widely fetched term. A lot of people think they’re designers if they are capable of using Photoshop, Indesign and Flash. A lot of people sell themselves with nice background patterns, sprayer-like illustrations, good looking, fresh and giddy, curly, splashy illustrations. That is not design, it is showing off. And good design never shows off, it is a show in itself because it was designed well.
Designers can be smart, they can be conceptual and they can know XHTML, PHP, AJAX and CSS in and out. They might know the best shortcuts for Photoshop too. But that doesn’t make him a creative. It’s not just about executing on ideas, it’s about making them. A lot of companies think that hiring a designer will fulfill their purpose: executing on look and feel. Make it nice. Make it look good. But that doesn’t cut it. You need creativity to be a good designer, and that goes way beyond making something pretty.
What is your idea of a designer, what is your idea of a creative director? I’m looking forward to your comments!
Technorati Tags: Culture
Vox, the new service of Six Apart, went live on November 29th. I had the opportunity to betatest Vox for a couple of weeks, testing its features and delving into content other users provided.
Vox is a free social website with similar features like Myspace, Tribe, Xanga, Orkut, Tagworld, Facebook and others. You can publish your posts, including audio (your own music, or reviews of what you are listening to), add pictures, video clips, or comment on other people’s posts. You can also connect to other people by adding them to your neighbourhood, or asking them to be your friend.
First of it all, Six Apart’s main expertise is blogging. With Movable Type, they had a big share in contributing to the blog revolution. Some would say they started it off, but they didn’t invent it. Blogging had been around since the web started, but it took a while until it became a cultural phenomenon. To make that happen, software that was easy to use was required. Web based applications like Movable Type made it easier to update content, and everything grew from there, enabling regular people to publish content on the Web.
Vox is an interesting concept that incorporates a number of capabilities from other social websites. It sets itself apart by not trying to be a dating site, or a friendship networking site. You can do that with Vox, but it’s actually up to you what you do with it. By its core, Vox is your little closet with your favorite things in it. Just with the difference you share it with the world. It’s your repository, your journal and your scrapbook. Vox does the same you can do with iWeb from Apple. You can create your own website and share it with the world. Unlike with Apple’s service though, Vox is free and you don’t have to buy a desktop application to make it happen.
What makes the big difference is Vox’s approach. LiveJournal (which was acquired by Six Apart) and Blogger have been around for a while, and already, they make blogging pretty easy. Six Apart also runs TypePad, which is essentially a preinstalled payable service, based on technology of Movable Type.
Vox takes it one level higher, adding fun with lots of different themes you can choose from, making usage of different media a breeze, adding social connectivity functions, and, most importantly, it just works.
It doesn’t feel bloated yet, and everything backend is happening quite fast. I hope this won’t change with growing popularity of Vox. Also, right now I notice a certain feel of anarchy and self organization. It’s one of the first Web 2.0 apps that doesn’t feel like “I want to be like every Web 2.0 app out there”.
Without any visual resemblance, without making any connection to it, Vox incorporates an Apple-like approach of usability and simplicity. It feels like something made for people, not for techies, and it doesn’t have the typical elitism that has emerged lately from blogging communities.
Vox makes everything technical easy and approachable, and achieves this using AJAX, RSS and mostly Web Standard compliant technology. Typical obstacles of creating your content are moved out of the way. You don’t have to think about video formats, about how to set up picture galleries or how to add audio to your posts. You can focus on writing and exploring. You can spend some time and play with it, and your entertainment satisfaction is much higher than when you’re reading a magazine or watch a TV show.
This is how sharing works best. Nearly everybody has something to share. For years, my dad has sending out emails with 8 MB attachments of pictures of newborn grand children. He used email because it was the easiest way he knew.
Vox doesn’t only bring back the fun for people used to blogging. It also makes blogging accessible to everyone, helping us to let out the inner child and simply be ourselves.
Technorati Tags: Culture
Today, October 19th, Microsoft has released its long expected browser update, Internet Explorer 7. Several years behind the introduction of tabbed browsing in Firefox, Internet Explorer now features this function, as well as handling of RSS feeds and improved security.
A blatant lack of security, and tying users into forced usage of Internet Explorer only, had been on top of the critique list for Internet Explorer 6. Additionally, for developers it was simply put a nightmare to make proper W3 compliant websites work with Internet Explorer. The engine of Internet Explorer was based on an aging license of Spyglass Mosaic, from 1995.
In 1995 Spyglass Mosaic was licensed by Microsoft, in an arrangement under which Spyglass would receive a quarterly fee plus a percentage of Microsoft’s revenues for the software. Internet Explorer 3.0 was released free of charge in August 1996. Microsoft thus made no direct revenues on IE and was liable to pay Spyglass only the minimum quarterly fee. In 1997, Spyglass threatened Microsoft with a contractual audit, in response to which Microsoft settled for US $8 million.
Technologically, Firefox, Safari and Opera have the lead. A relatively young offspring of the Mozilla Project, which is the source behind Firefox, is Flock. It introduced new sharing capabilities, integrating current blog- and picture management technology, integrating with blogging systems like Movable Type, Wordpress, and social websites like Flickr.
Next year, with the overdue release of Windows Vista, supposingly more security features will be added to Windows and Internet Explorer. It is yet to be seen if Microsoft can keep up with the developments of Firefox, Safari and Opera. In hopes to keep up with the speed of modern operating systems, Microsofts Windows Vista will mimic some of the behavior and usability of the recent releases of Mac OS.
Technorati Tags: Culture
TechCrunch wrote an article about DOPA, a new law proposition passed by the U.S. House, that will require schools and universities to block social websites on their networks and computers.
An incredibly vague law, DOPA will require schools and libraries to block access to a potentially huge range of sites on the Internet. The goal is to protect children from adult predators. Sites that must be blocked include those that allow people to post profiles, include personal information and allow “communication among users.”
You are kidding me, right? “The goal is to protect children from adult predators.” — How dumb can a government be?
To go to war with a country that didn’t attack you, based on fake evidence of chemical weapons, is one stupidity. But taking one or two cases that spilled MySpace onto front page news as sufficient reason to block several generations from participating in the social web movement puts a stick between your own legs. It’s taking the U.S. backwards on the same level with Cuba and China, two other governments desperately trying to hinder their society’s developments by blocking parts of the Internet.
Few people realize how deep mistakes cut into generations of a society, when a government starts blocking the evolution of its own country. If this law passes, and chances are it will, it’s one more example showing how the current U.S. administration is following in McCarthy’s footsteps.
I don’t think they were bad advised by Internet specialists. I think they simply ignored them. What counts is conservative voices supporting the house and making sure money flows. Anything grass roots like the MySpace movement (which was founded commercially but has now gained a life and space in cultural space of its own) is considered a threat.
With a history of bad decisions, it’s not surprising that this government doesn’t realize the long term effects of its actions. But I’m pretty sure they’re fully aware that what they are doing is doing no good to social development. Perhaps that’s the plan after all. Blocking exchange and free thought at its roots, eliminating social connection, anything democratic that isn’t controllable.
Technorati Tags: Culture
This story could be all “look, how cute, they love each other!”. It could be heart-melting, to learn that myspace.com is not only for teens, freaks and child molesters. It could transmit that through the Internet — source of so many bad stories, freaking out people every day — something positive and great has happened. Two people jumped over borders. Two people found love, crossing barriers of culture and religion. Two people overcame fundamental prejudices of their culture.
But no. Our time doesn’t allow this kind of positive view. We are trained for twists and turns, making it shocking news, manifesting fundamental fears, the roots of all hatred. Is this manipulative journalism? Not really, since I doubt the journalist who wrote this article intended to manipulate. But being american, he just couldn’t help writing it from an american culture point of view. That’s understandable, but not forgivable.
It is not 100% sure wether core was accepted or not. A couple of days ago, the list contained 111 accepted entries, but now has grown to a 115.
If core was not accepted, I am disappointed of course, but I am not frustrated. I have made great efforts in making core Theory a great conversation website. Sure, given the time this site is online, there are virtually no conversations going on right now. Following 9rules’ own set of definitions, core Theory would be an ideal candidate for 9rules. Comments are open, trackbacks are on, and gathering more traffic and consequently getting more comments and more trackbacks is kind of the point of joining a network like 9rules.
There may be many reasons, or just a single one, why core Theory didn’t make it.
Honestly, I would say my blog is way more innovative, more in-depth, less taking from others and closer to the point with the branding topic, than some accepted applications. Still, I’m not bitter. Real sports spirits means to steadily improve your efforts, to compete until you’re good enough, acknowledge and recognized because of your work content, not because of a pretty dress. And I know 9rules is not only going for the pretty ones.
9rules was mainly looking for blogs that are non-tech related. core Theory puts an emphasis in being about branding and social change.
In the past, 9rules has proven to feature rich content and high quality websites. So they have a good guts feeling about quality. They are a great network, and who knows, if not this one, maybe with round five, core Theory will be accepted.
Technorati Tags: Culture
Doug Bowman, web celebrity with parentship of some Blogger templates, has been collaborating with Google over the last couple of months. It seems like a logical step that Google is hiring him now permanently. As a consequence, Doug will stop his contract work at StopDesign, which has always been a great influencial source of information around web development.
Not so long ago Google was looking for a creative director, but their job description didn’t really sound like they had a precise idea of what this job would involve. Which is not meant as a critique. I think this way of organic growth has always been a great part of Google.
Now that the company has grown big, the brand has become so influencial, that it is about time someone starts taking control over a unified look and feel of the company’s surface on the web. If you had asked me to name someone quickly who’d be fit for that job, I would have said Doug Bowman. Peter Morville believes there aren’t many experience designers out there. I think Doug Bowman is one of them.
In spring 2005, after an unsuccessful joint venture with a web company in California, I returned from Francisco to Zurich, which had been my starting point. I was disillusioned. My entire energy had been used up to invest into building up someone elses web company. Back in Zurich in April 2005, I didn’t know how to go on with my job, I didn’t know with what, and most importantly, I didn’t have a clue about valid XHTML and CSS. During my time in San Francisco I simply did not have the time to take a deeper look into coding.
The situation forced me to become creative, beyond the usual. I thought about everything I knew and cared about: my background in advertising, branding, marketing, strategy, design, the processes of Web design and evolutionary learning, systematical and structural development. The entire web business, blogs, the idea of conversations instead of monologues, social networks, tribe.net, trends and folksonomy — it all had a huge fascination for me.
The result of this thought process were a couple of rather radical but good decisions. I could have gone back to advertising business, starting over as a creative director, which had been my job previous to my San Francisco adventure. But my passion and fascination about the Web did not allow that.
All decisions I made had consequences, from technology to strategy and presentation. It was all about the hard way. For once, I had to start learning to develop websites from scratch.
Because when you have designed websites using GoLive or Dreamweaver and you are looking into CSS based XHTML layouts, you first have to learn thinking differently. Forget what you know about the development process and learn hand coding. It has to do with systematic thinking, testing and finding out how to make things work smoother, designing elements better and smarter, and going through a cycle of this process over and over, until everything works together, with elegance and simplicity. Everything you learned yesterday, you have to let flow back into development today, and bringing it online by tonight.
Add usability questions, user interaction questions, experience design, blog software (Movable Type in this case), a personal philosophy joining a bullet proof marketing idea, and you get an idea of what the task involved. Not enough I am quite passionate about these things. I also happen to be quite a perfectionist. I do not accept results below my standards.
The task I had set out to do in 2005 was to redefine those standards, on all levels of the scale: backend technology, information structure, presentation and marketing. The initial idea of core was born before I went to San Francisco, about 4 years ago. But it took its time until now to realize it and shape it into what you see today.
Corebasis.com has become more than a regular website. It is a hub, a system, a conversation website. It is my playground and at the same time stage for my business. The idea of core is conceptually strong, and everything my consulting service is based on the idea of communicating with your core, the best possible transmission of what is inside your product, service, or company.
In summer 2005, I this approach found first recognition. After sending out an email to Goto Media, Kelly Goto contacted me and we worked together on a very small project. In August, Netdiver mentioned the core website update in its news. But the site was nowhere from being finished. It was still table based, and not even close to the idea I had in mind.
It has been more than a year now since I found myself washed back to the shores of Switzerland. I think this experience was extremely good for me, despite the disappointment I had felt when I had left San Francisco. Leaving the place where you are in immediate touch with the heartbeat of Web evolution felt like missing the big party. Being set back to my experience and capabilities, forced to learn new things, to innovate myself, redesiging my whole outlook in business turned out to be a good thing. It charged me with a whole set of valuable experiences.
This week, core was recognized by two leading Web galleries, CSSMania and CSSElite. Which is fun and a nice experience. It is interesting to get feedback from people, to see what they think about you. You learn a lot about yourself. It reminds me of the time back when we were kids and made first friendships. We were showing off our toys and shared our secret treasures.
Sometimes I think of the Web as a child growing up. We are at the beginning of understanding how the Web is influencing our way of life, how it is making us learn and understand more about the way we work. And just like the Web, after an eventful childhood, the idea of core is slowly reaching its teenage years. It is still a long way on the road to maturity.
Technorati Tags: Culture
BBC News writes “Podcasting is cheap. All you need is a laptop, a microphone and a bit of a flair for technology and you can create your own programmes.” They cite two recently released reports about Podcasting as a trend, one from U.S. and one in Britain. People downloading to podcasts are still in a minority, despite the hype surrounding them, research suggests:
The number of US households listening to podcasts will increase to just 12 million by 2010, a Forrester Research report has found.
The survey of 5,000 US consumers by Forrester found that 3% had tried listening to a podcast. Of them, 2% had experimented with audio downloads but did not listen on a regular basis. There will be just 700,000 diehard downloaders in the US this year; a tiny audience compared to the 25 million people who tune into stations run by traditional broadcaster National Public Radio (NPR) every week.
A survey by research firm BMRB found that nearly eight million Britons will go in search of a podcast in the next six months. The Forrester survey backs up some of the findings in a report from BMRB.
Its survey looked at digital consumption in the UK. It also found that podcasts are the preserve of young males. But it predicts a much quicker uptake of podcasts in UK households, with around eight million adults logging on and walking away with their favourite radio programmes in their pocket by September this year.
The huge discrepancy between the figures for the US and the UK could point to relative differences in listening habits, online dexterity or even national character.
It could also reflect just how difficult it is to make these predictions.
How good can these numbers be? It seems hard to gather solid information, also because the number of people using Podcasts is very small compared to the number of people owning an iPod.
Wordpress is on the fast lane, surpassing Movable Type as the de facto standard for blog development, as it seems. I personally use Movable Type a lot, but since a couple of months I’m pondering about a change to more flexible PHP (vs. Perl, which is used by Movable Type).
This plugin I just discovered is another great example showing the growing community of Wordpress developers delivering great functionality. The ability to effortlessly generate an xml feed or a certain site display for mobile devices may be not needed by anyone, but it sure levers Wordpress value as a highly capable CMS, competing with other Open Source or commercial CMS systems in the market.
If you compare differences of the german Wordpress website and the english one, you’ll also see how Wordpress evolutionary grows through the efforts of its international Open Source developers community.
Technorati Tags: Culture
Six weeks of intensive work. Uncounted hours of typing, stripping and placing code in XHTML and CSS. People who frequently visited core have noticed the difference. Not everything was worked out when I decided to bring core live a couple of days ago. I knew it would need lots of more work. But at the same time I couldn’t look at the old core any longer. And I needed to have a live version up to figure out the quirks, improving its usability. Last but not least, I also needed some feedback. So thank you to all who sent me a note.
Although I am planning on writing an extensive report about the redesign, lining up how everything works — even without explanations the site pretty much speaks for itself. It has a much fresher look, very upfront, straight forward, avoiding unnecessary clutter. It is formal and functional, and yet it is using bright and friendly colors, which are also helping to navigate through the site. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Links use the same color and behavior throughout the entire site now. Another indicator with navigational functionality is an arrow, which sometimes changes its direction, depending on where the link will lead you. White boxes serve smaller and bigger amounts of content in consumable chunks. Those div-containers really have an IA-functionality here. Aside of dense, the core culture blog, there is only one font used throughout the whole website.
But the best part is, the site has become managable for me. It makes it easy to update content, to reflect changes not only on the blog page, but also in other sections like Practice and on the main landing page. In short, this site finally behaves and works like I do: logical, straight forward and comprehensive. To me, this is the biggest revolution since I started working in the Internet business.
I live in Zurich, Switzerland, but I was born a citizen of Liechtenstein, which is part of the European Economic Community. In terms of web work have worked for U.S. companies mainly, but I do have experience with clients in Germany and France. I speak english and german fluently and I would love to work for clients in the UK, or other parts of Europe. The following will give you an overview of options.
Due to the free trade agreement between Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and because I am citizen of a European country but live in a country outside of the European Economic Community, I have kind of a carte blanche within Europe — I can practically work anywhere. Unlike with U.S. restrictions, there are no restrictions for me to work in a country within the EU. There are also no limitations for me to be hired for fixed employment, part time work, long term projects, or any sort of contract work for a Europe based company.
U.S. companies who have branches or divisions in Europe can also hire me through their European division and have me work for the US company using the European hiring arrangement.
I am open to long term projects. I endorse long term work, and that is not a money driven effort, it is for our both benefit. Exchange and flowing information can become an added value to our expertise. Feel free to contact me to discuss what you have in mind.
The official Liechtenstein-website explains its EU and ECC relationships
Technorati Tags: Culture
In the last three years I have started working for a couple of US companies, and during the process I learned a lot about the legal conditions and possibilities. Unfortunately, in the past five to ten years the US government has decreased options for European developers to work in the US Options for freelance work on U.S. ground are nearly non existent. The following will give you an overview.
As a US based company you can hire me for a contract job and I will execute the project here in Zurich. A couple of US companies have done this before, and it worked out quite well. We used email, instant messengers, Skype (voice over IP) and phones to maintain a steady flow of information. The last project I worked on for a San Francisco based company ran smoothly by using phone and email as our main communication tools. I was paid with a check sent here by mail; no additional costs were involved for the contractor. Of course I can also fly out to places in the U.S. to personally discuss projects.
I can also come to the US and collaborate with a client at location. However, I can not execute any type of work on US soil, as defined by the USCIS — the US immigration authority, due to the B1 visa restrictions. It is possible to use my services as a consultant, for concept discussions, presentations, seminars, workshops and business meetings with teams or clients. What I can’t do with this option is being part of an active developer team, leading it, or helping to execute job tasks such as programming, design, any type of work that generates real output and is compensated in the US Unfortunately for the industry, those USCIS definitions are based on an outdated work/job-model. The result is a rather blurry definition when it comes to the real life job conditions of today. The USCIS currently has no model for a non-immigrant visa that allows contractor work with people from other countries than the US
You can also employ me by fixed terms. The USCIS is clear about the process for this option: A person being hired to work in the US requires a visa and work permit. In my case, an O visa or H1-B visa would enable me to work in the U.S. for the duration of 3 to 6 years. After 5 years of staying in the US I could apply for a Green Card. The H1-B visa is not particularly hard to get, but there is a time window to file the visa application, and it is advised to file the application a couple of months before the actual job would start, using services of a specialized law office.
I am open to long term projects. I endorse long term work, and that is not a money driven effort, it is for our both benefit. Exchange and flowing information can become an added value to our expertise. Feel free to contact me to discuss what you have in mind.
Technorati Tags: Culture
Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, writes:
The Encyclopædia Britannica article “Encyclopædia Britannica” indicates that the Encyclopædia Britannica is “the oldest and largest English-language general encyclopædia”. It is still the oldest. But it is now the second-largest to Wikipedia as measured by number of words and number of articles, among other standards.
On CNET’s Esoterica Blog, Mike Yamamoto writes:
The collaboratively assembled encyclopædia maintains a page devoted to correcting errors in its chief offline competitor, the venerable Encyclopædia Britannica. This doesn’t prove Wikipedia’s superiority, of course, but it does underscore one crucial advantage: An online research tool can at least issue corrections after initial publication, in real time—even if they involve mistakes made by somebody else.
This may be a bit nitpicky, but EB thinks there is hip hop music (which they problematically call rap) that is either not rhythmic or non-rhyming. I suppose there may be hip hop with no rhymes at all (I’ve never heard of it), but it’s certainly always rhythmic. Also, hip hop as a the backing music for rap, the musical style incorporating rhythmic and/or rhyming speech that became the movement’s most lasting and influential art form is a bit odd, I think. They apparently use “hip hop” to refer to the beat/instrumentation behind the rapping, which is not normal, at least — if “rap” is the “musical style”, then the “backing music” is an integral part of it, and “rap” doesn’t “incorporate” a kind of speech… it is a kind of speech, and is only a “musical style” when combined with “hip hop”. Furthermore, “most lasting and influential art form” being applied to “rap” is silly — graffiti, breakdancing and DJing have lasted just as long as rapping (early 70s to present); I suppose EB is allowed to be biased and call “rap” more influential than DJing, but I note that rapping is not widely used outside of hip hop, while DJing had a major influence on electronic music. Of course, if by “rap”, they are referring to hip hop music, then that would make sense, but that would be inconsistent with the first part. So, it’s at best confusingly written and misleading.
Technorati Tags: Culture
How would you define a Creative Director? Is it a senior designer? A senior copywriter? Or is it a manager? Apparently the views about how the role of a Creative Director is described vary. In my opinion, there’s a number of great misconceptions out there. On job searching sites like Craigslist you will find job listings for Creative Director, but it will never be the same. Companies are struggling in their attempt to define a role in clear words that obviously appears blurry to them.
It’s not new to me that people have different conceptions about job descriptions in this industry. After all you’ll also find Art Directors listed in movie titles and business cards of hair dressers. The communications industry is undergoing a transformation process. Along with changing media- and content demands, what used to be divided in advertising, design and web, whereas advertising and design were closely bound to the prepress industry, is now changing into one big chunk of companies offering their set of often overlapping services. It is not uncommon that a former advertising company now has a web department, a direct media or customer relationship department, a PR agency and even does their own media bookings.
A Creative Director, however, usually defines a management position. A person that’s usually directing people and commonly occupies a leading position. In some cases Creative Directors are also Managing Directors of a company, or at least member of the management board. Being Creative Director, in my personal experience, involves by far more management and leadership skills than any other senior job in the communications industry. Unlike a Managing Director, a Creative Director is in touch with all three connection points on a social level of a communications agency:
The Creative Director interacts within these three directions, trying to establish a fluent work flow, managing production cycles, getting calls from people who want to be hired, from recruiters, photographers and freelancers, and at the same time he/she is talking with other managers and presenting works to the clients. But the most important skill of a Creative Director is conceptual thinking. He should be able to write and hold his own presentations, with consequential thoughts and a single minded creative strategy. A Creative Director often finds himself in a role of a show master during client meetings: When the numbers have been discussed, the Creative Director takes over and presents the creative work, hopefully in a highly entertaining way. Which pretty much sums up the main reason why this job was always so much fun to me. It’s a fast life and exhausting, but challenging you every day.
To promote the creative services of my own company, core, I started looking at portfolio hosting services like Creative Hotlist. It’s one of many I’m going to use to post information about core services. Creative Hotlist knows the job Art, Creative Director. So there is no Creative Director without background in Art, which is a common misconception. In my career I’ve met a number of Creative Directors who had never had a drawing pencil in their hands. As a matter of fact, most highly qualified Creative Directors I met were former senior copywriters in advertising.
It goes further. When you’re filling out your profile at Creative Hotlist, you can select Project Management and Writing, but not Concepts or Presentations. The whole experience matches with the one of job offering sites such as Monster. It’s clear to me that those who create the database can’t add all kinds of jobs offered in the big big world. Creative Director, however, is not such an exotic job that it would lack a clear definition.
Technorati Tags: Culture